Birthday Party Planning Checklist

Birthday Party Planning Checklist

There’s no dispute birthday parties are a great way to celebrate. But sometimes they can be overwhelming to plan and coordinate. There is no better preparation for any type of event than a solid plan such as a birthday party planning checklist.

Regardless of the type of party, they all need similar coordination skills. A good plan consisting of a checklist and solid timeline will allow you to plan step-by-step without missing any tasks or deadlines.

This is where our birthday planning checklist comes in – to list out all the activities in a sequential time bound manner? Not only does it keep you organized, but it lends for a less stressful process. You see, removing your memory from the equation is the first step. Your brain, while a incredible organ, can often disappoint. But when you lay every task out you have a better sense of what you need to do and how much time it will take.


The absolute first thing that you need to decide is the budget. Your budget dictates EVER-Y-THING – don’t let ANYONE convince you otherwise. Budget determines type of food, how simple or extravagant the decor, number of guests and type of venue to name a few.

If co-hosting with a family member or friend make sure you agree on the budget. You don’t want to experience a coronary when your part of the bill arrives or worse, ruin a special relationship. Once everyone agrees on the budget, you can move on to other aspects of the party planning checklist.


The theme is where you get to add your creative touch whether it be a children’s party or a fancy cocktail party. Think about your theme early because it will dictate tasks on your checklist and the timeline. For tips on how to develop a theme for your party check our How To Create Mexican Party Theme post.


Ever planned an event and felt like you were rushing to get everything done at the last minute? You became overwhelmed and what should have been a fun celebration became a day of dread?

A timeline helps identify when all the tasks, activities and deadlines that need to be completed. When laid out in a timeline, your tasks become less overwhelming by focusing on a bucket of tasks at a time.

Depending on the event, the timeline could start a year or more in advance. This is especially true when booking well sought after venues. For most birthday parties though, starting your timeline three months before the party is usually sufficient .

Take 30 mins to an hour to brainstorm and jot down every task, activity and deadline for the party. Categorize each task into “time buckets” e.g. 3 months before, 1 month before etc. Use our birthday party planning checklist below to help guide you through this process. Once your timeline is complete, put it into action.

Birthday Party Planning Checklist


  • Determine budget
  • Decide on guest list
  • Determine type and theme of party (dinner, cocktail, dance party etc.)
  • Decide on the date, time and venue of the event
  • Reserve venue


  • Decide how you will incorporate the theme (colour palette, decor)
  • Hire external vendors (entertainment, caterer, party planner, cleaning service, party rentals)
  • Start DIY projects


  • Send invitations


  • Finalize menu
  • Create shopping list
  • Create plan for making food ahead of time
  • Order cake if you’re having one
  • Plan activities
  • Take inventory of linens, tableware, chairs, tables, glassware, cutlery,napkins, serving utensils
  • Purchase alcoholic beverages


  • Follow up on outstanding RSVPs
  • Confirm rental reservations
  • Shop for non-perishables


  • Finish grocery shopping
  • Finish any last minute shopping
  • Do cleaning


  • Set up chairs and tables
  • Put up decorations


  • Finish last minute cooking
  • Perform last minute cleaning
  • Touch up cleaning
  • Set out appetizers
  • Greet guests

This post has taken you through the most common activities you will need to plan a birthday party but can be easily applied to any type of celebratory event for a gathering of people. Be sure to check out my other post on how to develop a party theme.

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